Touching, sweet study of a group of middle-aged, unemployed men in Spain, and how they try to
cling to feeling relevant and meaningful in a world that doesn't seem to need them.
Yet another great performance by Javier Bardem at its center.
A little wordy and stagy, and the end is a touch sappy, but mostly moving,
gentle and real. A film that has stayed with me over the years.
on 20 September 2005
"Mondays in the Sun", directed by Fernando León de Aranoa, is a movie where not much happens. Despite that, it is worthwhile seeing, and remembering...
Why?. Because it tells us the story of a group of friends, former workers in a shipyard, who were sacked from their jobs and are unemployed. The spectators will watch them look repeatedly and uselessly for a new job, and deal with being unemployed and old in a society where most jobs are for young people. As a result, viewers are likely to realize that having a job isn't only about earning money, but also part of who we are, to a certain extent. And in the case of most of these men, their identities are in need of a redefinition that gives their lives new meaning.
This story takes place in Spain, but it could have been set in many other places. "Mondays in the Sun" is a film about unemployment and friendship, and those are things that are everywhere. As such, you are highly unlikely to find the message of this movie irrelevant. Even if you have a job (and that is my case), you probably know that some people don't, and that they suffer the consequences of that lack.
It is pertinent to point out that this isn't a film that will make you laugh. It is somewhat gloomy at times, and the actors play well the roles of people on the edge, eager to strike out at whomever is near them. Santa (Javier Bardem) is specially impressive as a man who doesn't have a clue regarding what to do with himself now that he doesn't have a job.
Another of the characters of this story is Serguei (Serge Riaboukine), a former Russian astronaut who is in Spain looking for a job. Serguei tells the others a joke: "Two old party comrades meet and one says `All that we were told about communism was a lie'. The other says `Yes, but the worst thing is that all we were told about capitalism was true'.
Truth to be told, "Mondays in the Sun" tells us what happens to those left behind by capitalism. Of course, capitalism is not always good, but all the other systems are even worse. However, that doesn't mean we can deny that our system has problems that must be solved. This movie gets that point across powerfully, and because of that I highly recommend it.
on 6 December 2014
A well-written, thoughtful film about a group of unemployed, disenfranchised former shipworkers. Nice characterisation - Javier Bardem being the larger than life, central character and his three friends.
The title - and DVD cover - however, are quite misleading. I can only imagine they were for marketing purposes, but they do not represent the film.at all.
on 14 May 2012
Javier Bardem has a bright, colourful persona. His look and facial expressions are more akin to that of a cartoon character which makes scenes more interesting to watch as he deals with real life, grown-up issues of gloom & depression. An odd observation yes, but an observation... one which impels me to delve into more of his exploits.
In a nutshell, this story shows how unemployment manifests itself around community folk. It remains transfixed on the subject of human relationships directly affected by common circumstance. The murky setting speaks volumes over the dialogue. With miserable overcast greys and rain puddles dotted around derelict streets and industrial backdrops; the mood is clear. And superficial connotations of the film title would be a sad mistake.
The group of now unemployed middle-aged men are presented with a real sense of hopelessness and reckless desperation. However, the theme is potently 'laugh or you'll cry' and the humour this gives way to is extremely funny at times "Bubbles.. orange or lemon?".
Out of pure boredom, they start taking shots at each others families/relationships either maliciously or endearingly but somehow all within the premise of sticking together. Some might erroneously classify this film as a dark comedy but the bar jokes and banter are heavily plagued by an undertone of sadness right the way through.
The screenplay forces you to care about these people. I feel the director intentionally held his cards close to his chest for the most part, leaving you to exercise your own adult intuition of everyone's thoughts and feelings in various situations. You'll experience a roller-coaster of emotions watching this film which arguably pays homage to Ken Loachs' "Riff Raff" in many ways. The melancholic soundtrack sits in the same vein as Claire Denis' "35 Shots of Rum" by Tindersticks.